This is a rant…sorry. These are my personal opinions and my personal opinions only. This really came up because I just can't believe someone could ever think it was OK to walk up to police officers in a car and shoot them...to be that emboldened there is likely some sort of larger problem going on.
Today, with all the media division on ALL sides as we head into this election season, I wanted to highlight something we’ve heard about in the past and continue to SEE today. Do you remember learning about the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? Basically, it means if you are told your will be something, or believe that you will be something, then you are more likely to become that - set expectations and that is what you will work to. The piece that I remember was the example where you take a child and tell them that they are dumb, and that they are a problem child. In the future, they will be more likely to believe that narrative and become what they were told they were…
What’s this mean? Well, I think if we look at today’s narrative we can see this happening all over the place. In the past we looked at our history as both good AND bad - here’s what made “us” good, but we had flaws too. From those flaws and mistakes we learned and became “better” over time. But the foundation and principles of our culture were positive overall. But lately (and I would say for the past 30-50 years) we would slowly become less positive about our beginnings (our foundation) and then using that to belittle any and all good done in our history and present society…so for example, we enacted major political change over time on racial equality initiatives - so much so, that one would be hard pressed to find legislation that was in itself, inherently racist. Anytime that legislation is considered racist or policies are considered racist and proven to be so, we repeal them and move on. That would be the opposite of systemically racist. A systemically racist system would never repeal, but would rather, continue to enforce more discrimination over time - this is NOT happening in the US, it’s just not.
But with media coverage buying into a narrative that we are a racist society, are we not seeing more racial flare ups? If you tell someone they are racist, are they not more likely to believe it and act accordingly? Feel emboldened to flare up (on all sides of the racial debate)? We see white national groups getting more coverage and therefore using the coverage as a way to grow influence…We see those in the black community buying into a narrative that they need to be afraid of the police - so much so that some can celebrate when police officers are targeted for violence - if you live in fear / identify a new enemy, will you not be emboldened to act on that? It’s all getting sickening - sorry for the rant, but the media needs to get a handle on their importance and their role in driving emotional behaviors on all sides of many issues in this country. And people need to come together with RESPECT for one another so that you can have conversations and debates about beliefs - exchange relevant facts and then admit that many things CANNOT be agreed upon, but as long as we respect each other we might be able to agree that we can disagree. Me NOT believing that the USA is systemically racist doesn’t mean that I am a racist nor support racism - it’s an abomination. Me believing that upward mobility is a possibility for ALL Americans but recognizing that some people will have an easier path to that is not racist, but it’s factual and opens the door for “other” factors that impede upward mobility (usually attributed to income / poverty levels, family structure, etc.).
If you tell us all that we are racist or that the police are threatening your life, are we surprised by escalation of violence where police are targeted? The we get to an “other” mentality rather than a “we” mentality only bad things can come. I can’t speak for anyone else but myself - but these are the things I think - if we tell ourselves something enough we’ll start to believe it and I have to say I don’t believe the country is racist and I believe that WE are strong united under a flag that brings us a freedom we take for granted. But here are some links to what the self fulfilling prophecy is, and some other examples of scientific proof about the power of suggestion when called out in media outlets.
We need to look at people as individuals who deserve our respect and we need actively try to reserve judgments until we have a chance to review the quality of one's character. Broad characterizations serve no long term beneficial purpose other than puffing up our own sense of morality or superior self image. Cliche's do reflect truths in many ways - don't judge a book by its cover...appearances are often misleading...all that is gold doesn't glitter...looks are deceiving...etc.
Another definition article - Placebo Effect is a form of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: https://positivepsychology.com/self-fulfilling-prophecy/
Some examples of how exposure to ideas can influence behaviors:
2002 study on suicide influence by media: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1124845/
2019 - instagram poll led to suicide - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/15/teenage-girl-kills-herself-after-instagram-poll-in-malaysia
Shark Fear Based on Media Coverage: https://www.wemjournal.org/article/S1080-6032(15)00409-3/pdf
2017 Study on Media and Mass Shootings: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5296697/